After Kandahar attack, Islamabad urges Afghanistan to tackle terrorism through ‘collective efforts’

ISLAMABAD: Day after a suicide bombing in Kandahar, Pakistan urged Afghanistan to tackle the issue of terrorism through “collective efforts,” reiterating strong condemnation of terrorism in all forms and manifestations.

A press release from the Foreign Office on Friday strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Kandahar, adding that the people and the government of Pakistan extended their sincere condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for the early recovery of the injured.

“Terrorism is a shared concern that both countries need to address through collective efforts,” the FO stressed.

The FO had on Thursday reiterated Pakistan’s desire to address the issue of terrorism with Afghanistan through dialogue and cooperation.

On Thursday, a suicide bombing killed three people and wounded 12 others in the Afghan city of Kandahar, the heartland of the Taliban authorities that rule the country.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and while multiple explosions have been reported around the country since the start of the holy month of Ramazan on March 11, few have been confirmed by Taliban officials.

Speaking at her weekly press briefing, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch had said: “Pakistan has repeatedly said that we prioritise dialogue and cooperation in finding solutions to issues of mutual concern and that is why Pakistan has been engaged in conversations and dialogue with Afghanistan to fight the threat that we face that is of terrorism that emanates from these groups which are currently based in Afghanistan.”

She was responding to questions about Pakistan’s air strikes against Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group targets inside Afghanistan on Monday after militants based there carried out an attack on a Frontier Corps camp on March 16.

The Afghan Taliban administration had res­ponded angrily to the air strikes and fired heavy weapons into Pakistan from across the border in retaliation.

“We will continue to engage with Afghanistan so that we are able to defeat these terror groups and the threat that they pose to Pakistan and the friendship between Pak­istan and Afghanis­tan,” Baloch had further said, adding that “the channels of communication between the two countries remain open.”

Resurgent terrorism

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in 2023, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan after the banned militant Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended its ceasefire with the government in November 2022.

The Inter-Services Public Relations, the military’s media wing, said earlier this week that the “recent wave of terrorism in Pakistan has the full support and assistance of Afghanistan”.

“The Afghan interim government is not only arming the terrorists but also providing a safe haven for other terrorist organisations as well as being involved in the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan,” it had stated.

The FO had also said that terror outfits, including the TTP, “pose a grave threat to Pakistan’s security and have consistently used Afghan territory to launch terror attacks inside Pakistani territory”.

The ISPR said earlier this month that 10 militants were killed in two separate operations by security forces in the North Waziristan district. It had added that Pakistan expected the Afghan government to fulfil its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists.

Last month, a late-night attack on a police station in Dera Ismail Khan was repulsed. Gunmen had mounted an attack using heavy weapons but fled in the cover of darkness when police personnel fired back.

In December last year, 23 soldiers were martyred and more than 30 troops wounded after militants belonging to the Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan stormed a compound used by the military in Dera Ismail Khan’s Daraban area.

According to an annual security report issued by the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Pakistan witnessed 1,524 violence-related fatalities and 1,463 injuries from 789 terror attacks and counter-terror operations in 2023 — marking a record six-year high.

KP and Balochistan were the primary centres of violence, accounting for over 90 per cent of all fatalities and 84pc of attacks, including incidents of terrorism and security forces operations.

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